Soil for Water

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A New Outreach and Demonstration Program

Recent discoveries in soil science have given landowners new ways of increasing water infiltration, storing carbon in soil and restoring dead soils to life.

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When it is properly planned, livestock grazing can be a powerful tool for improving soil health and accelerating soil restoration in the Hill Country.

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You can improve the condition of your ranch, store more water on-site, increase biodiversity and productivity, and reduce the effects of drought and flooding. Improvements can often be seen in months or years, not millennia.

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2016 Soil Talk Series

All Soil Talks are free and open to the public, but please RSVP to soilforwater@ncat.org

September 30: Ecosystem Function

Peggy Sechrist, Steve Nelle & Dr. Richard Teague

9 am-5 pm Morning at the Wimberley Community Center 14068 Ranch Road 12, Wimberley, TX

Afternoon will be spent walking pastures to learn how to read the land. Focused on the world of microorganisms beneath the soil, and how that world determines the condition of our landscape.

October 22: Ecosystem Monitoring

Peggy Sechrist, Steve Nelle & Dr. Richard Teague

9 am–5 pm, Morning at the Wimberley Community Center 14068 Ranch Road 12, Wimberley, TX

How do you know if your land is improving? Learn to assess land health, measure change, and use management techniques that improve the condition and function of your land. Afternoon includes practice monitoring on the land.

November 4: Plan Your Grazing

Peggy Sechrist & Dr. Tim Steffens

Ryan Ranch Pavilion

473 Starlit Circle

Located between Blanco and Luckenbach on RR 1888. (Directions provided when you RSVP)

There is a way to manage grazing livestock to improve soil’s water holding capacity and maintain excellent livestock performance. This session is all about that! Some time will be spent out on the ranch discussing planned grazing practices.

 

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Featured Trainers

 

Peggy Sechrist
Our local project coordinator, Peggy and her husband Richard live along the Pedernales River. In 1995 they were the first ranch in Texas to be certified organic and began direct marketing all of their beef as grass-fed. Peggy has been a Certified Educator in the field of Holistic Management® for over 20 years.

Steve Nelle
A Natural Resource Specialist and Wildlife Biologist, Steve worked for NRCS for 27 years out of their San Angelo office. His specialties include range plant ecology, grazing management, ranch planning, wildlife habitat and deer herd management, plant identification, riparian management, and watershed management.

Richard Teague, Ph.D.
Range Ecologist, Professor, and Associate Resident Director with Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Richard’s work focuses on the effect of management actions on rangeland hydrology, soil carbon and nitrogen, plant productivity, livestock productivity, and economics. He recently completed a ten-year research project on nine ranches across three counties to study rangeland function under different management methods.

Tim Steffens, Ph.D.
An Assistant Professor and AgriLife Extension Specialist in Rangeland Resource Management, Tim has worked many years with producers on grazing management, prescribed fire, and livestock nutrition. Currently he is focusing on managing ecological succession using targeted grazing management to improve soil quality.


More Information and Resources

Presentation from Soil Talk Workshop #3: November 4, 2016 in Blanco, Texas

Grazing management tools, rules, and guidelines
Talk by Dr. Tim Steffens, de-mystifying the benefits of multi-paddock grazing systems and clarifying the sometimes-surprising relationships between stocking rates, stock density, recovery period, animal distribution, and timing. (6.8 mb pdf file)


Presentations from Soil Talk Workshop #2: October 22, 2016 in Wimberley, Texas

(1) Ecosystem Tools & Monitoring
Talk by Peggy Sechrist, outlining tools for managing the ecosystem and principles of monitoring environmental changes. (1.6 mb pdf file)
(2) Restoring Uplands: the Tools to Use
Talk by Dr. Richard Teague, explaining how adaptive multi-paddock grazing can be used to restore and improve upland ecosystem function. (2.2 mb pdf file)
(3) Review of Riparian Function
Talk by Steve Nelle, explaining a variety of tools that can be used to restore riparian areas to health. (7.6 mb pdf file)


Presentations from Soil Talk Workshop #1: September 30, 2016 in Wimberley, Texas

(1) Ecosystem Function
Talk by Peggy Sechrist, outlining basic ecological principles, ecosystem processes, and functions of a health soil foodweb. (6 mb pdf file)
(2) Managing Upland Grazing to Restore Soil Health and Farm Livelihoods
Talk by Dr. Richard Teague, explaining landscape impacts of various livestock management systems and presenting research results on using adaptive multi-paddock grazing to improve the health of soils and upland vegetation. (6 mb pdf file)
(3) Introduction to Riparian Function: Understanding Creeks, Rivers and Riparian Areas
Talk by Steve Nelle, explaining how healthy riparian areas function, how creeks work, and how livestock management changes can play a role in restoring damaged creeks and riparian areas to health. (12 mb pdf file)


Videos

Gabe Brown: Keys to Building a Healthy Soil
North Dakota farmer Gabe Brown discusses his five key points for building a healthy soil. Filmed November 18, 2014 at the Idaho Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s annual symposium. (1 hour video)

Soil Carbon Cowboys
Meet Allen Williams, Gabe Brown and Neil Dennis three ranchers who know how to regenerate their soils while making their animals healthier and their operations more profitable. (12 minute video)

Gabe Brown: Regeneration of Our Lands: A Producer’s Perspective
Gabe Brown took the principles of improving soil health and began applying them in the mid 1990’s, before people were talking about them. Since then he has been collaborating with local scientists to measure the amazing results on his land which averages just 14 inches of rain per year. Filmed at TEDx Grand Forks. (16 minute video)


Articles

Conquest of the Land through Seven Thousand Years
1939 study by W.C. Lowdermilk of worldwide impacts of soil erosion, deforestation, and overgrazing, still relevant today. Reprinted by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. (717 kb pdf file)
Healthy Soils for Life
Andre Leu article reprinted with permission from Acres USA (July 2015, Vol. 45, No. 7). (1.2 mb pdf file)
Rehydrating the Earth: a New Paradigm for Water Management
Richard Widows article from Holistic Science Journal (2015, Vol 2, Issue 4).
SOS: Save Our Soils
Dr. Christine Jones explains the link between carbon and healthy topsoil. Reprinted with permission from Acres USA (March 2015, Vol. 45, No. 3). (230 kb pdf file)
Water for the Recovery of the Climate–a New Water Paradigm
M. Kravich, J. Pokorny, J. Kohutiar, M. Kovac, E. Toth, 2007. Available from www.waterparadigm.org. Free 94 page pdf download.


Selected ATTRA Publications on Grazing and Soils (free downloads)

A Brief Overview of Nutrient Recycling in Pastures
Nutrients cycle through soil organisms, plants, and grazing livestock. Good management enhances the nutrient cycle, increases productivity, and reduces costs.
Grazing Calculator: Extended Cow-Calf Pair
Provides a simple means of analyzing your grazing program as you work your way through the grazing season. (Excel spreadsheet)
Paddock Design, Fencing, and Water Systems for Controlled Grazing
Covers basics of paddock design and current fencing and water technology.
Pasture, Rangeland, and Grazing Management
Profiles types of pastures and rangelands and discusses management, expected yields, and weed management, including tips for rehabilitating depleted land.
Rotational Grazing
Feed costs decline and animal health improves when livestock periodically move to fresh paddocks, allowing pastures time to recover before they are grazed again.


Selected Publications from HMI: Holistic Management International

Free Download Packages
Packages on “Introduction to Holistic Management,” “Holistic Grazing Planning,” and “Holistic Financial Planning.”
Creating Healthy Land: The Four Ecosystem Processes
An ecosystem manual covering Ecosystem Basics, the Water Cycle, the Mineral Cycle, Biological Community, Energy Flow, and other topics. (4 mb pdf file)
Bulleseye Manual
Explains how to perform a rapid visual assessment of rangeland health, establish a long-term monitoring program, and build a complete picture of rangeland health to guide management decisions. (6.7 mb pdf file)


Texas Soil Testing Labs

A&L Plains Agricultural Laboratories, Lubbock, TX
Soil analysis reports include % organic matter, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium & calcium, sodium, soil pH, buffer index, cation exchange capacity, % base saturation, nitrate, sulfur, zinc, manganese, iron, copper, boron, excess lime rate, and soluble salts.

Texas Plant & Soil Lab, Edinburg, TX
Offer a wide variety of soil test packages using the Carbon Dioxide Extraction Method, which measures soil nutrients immediately available to the plant as well as those “in reserve” or slowly-available.


August, 21 2015

PDF #1 NELLE
PDF #2 SECHRIST

 

Soil for Water is a project of NCAT, in collaboration with the Hill Country Alliance. Supported by Dixon Water Foundation.

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